資料彙整   /   作家  /  John  Keats  約翰.濟慈
John  Keats
約翰.濟慈
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主要文類:Poem
資料提供者:Kate Liu/劉紀雯;Ray Schulte/蕭笛雷
關鍵字詞:Introduction to Literature 1998/1999/2000 English Literature 19th Century Romantic Period Romantic Poetry Cultural Studies

約翰濟慈

1795-1821

 

 早年生活

     A. 家庭背景

     B. 艱苦的青少年時期

 試煉期

     A. 初試啼聲

     B. 詩人的決定

 成年時期

A. 創作高峰

 

B. 短暫的光芒

 

 早年生活   

  約翰濟慈(John Keats, 後稱濟慈)在僅僅二十五年短暫的生命中,創作成就非凡(雪萊甚至認為濟慈可能超越自己在文壇的地位),許多評論家認為是因為他的天才秉賦成就出他的詩篇,但也因他從小處境、生活曲折、身體孱弱,促使他對人生的深刻體認。

A. 家庭背景

濟慈幼時家庭尚屬小康。其父湯馬斯濟慈(Thomas Keats)在承接岳父馬廄商鋪的生意之後,總算為妻子法蘭西斯傑寧斯(Frances Jennings Keats)與其四名子女帶來更舒適的生活環境。成長在這樣的小康家庭之中,濟慈得以在八歲時進入恩菲爾(Enfield)就讀,他的弟弟們喬治(George)與湯馬斯(Thomas)隨後跟隨他於恩菲爾受教育。

 

B. 艱苦的青少年時期

然而濟慈家這樣幸福無憂的光景卻在父親不慎自馬上跌落的意外中結束。從此濟慈家庭愁雲慘淡,湯馬斯身後留下妻兒頓時失去依靠。濟慈母親法蘭西斯原以為改嫁能讓孩子過正常的生活,不料再婚的對象竟只是覬覦濟慈家的馬廄商鋪小生意。身處家庭巨變,濟慈由活潑好動、淘氣愛打架的頑皮小男孩變的較沈默而內斂。身為長子的他在其母離家之後,更加堅決扛起照顧年幼弟妹的重擔。雖然法蘭西斯於1808年返家,不久之後她便因結核病過世。所幸其祖母愛麗絲傑寧斯(Alice Whalley Jennings)心疼孫兒,用為數不小的傑寧斯家族遺產委託茶商理察艾比(Richard Abbey)為孫兒們監護人,並由其分配處置遺產以為孩子們的教育及生活經費。艾比選擇讓濟慈從醫,因此使濟慈於十六歲起,追隨當時的名醫湯馬斯哈蒙得(Thomas Hammond)學習外科醫師技術。

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 試煉期

    

 

A. 初試啼聲


當濟慈還在恩菲爾時,校長約翰•
克拉克(John Clarke)便察覺其不凡之處。濟慈在恩菲爾學習法文及拉丁文時,便常常因翻譯、寫作而得獎,更因喜好閱讀、孜孜不倦的學習態度,使得克拉克與其子寇文克拉克(Cowen Clarke)與之投其所好,成為莫逆之交。濟慈十八歲時返回家鄉與寇文重聚,因緣際會使其開始接觸史賓賽(Edmund Spenser)的詩集。在受到史賓賽詩篇的感動與克拉克父子的鼓勵之下,濟慈開始學習做詩。寇文不久之後為濟慈引介當時在獄中服刑的名評論家雷夫杭特(Leigh Hunt),杭特對濟慈的影響善惡參半,但其日後為濟慈出版詩集,卻使得濟慈從此在文壇受到注目。

 

B. 詩人的決定

當濟慈不斷寫詩時,他在蓋依醫院(Guy’s Hospital)擔任的包紮傷口工作對他的創作來說簡直是微不足道。儘管濟慈通過醫院的測驗,十分可能成為合格的外科醫生,濟慈在反覆考慮自己的前半生與父母親相繼病逝等種種因素之後,毅然決然地離開蓋依醫院的工作,以寫作為業。

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 成年時期

 

  A. 創作高峰

濟慈的首部詩集出現於1817年,由杭特為其出版,雖然杭特前前後後為濟慈出版、發表作品,針對他作品的評論總是渾沌不清的草草帶過。濟慈的〈隱地米恩〉(Endymion”)一首受雪萊鼓勵並挑戰而創作的長詩受到注目。這首詩被當時大多數的詩評批評的體無完膚,但濟慈並不因此而感到挫折,相反的他更加積極寫作。他的作品在認識芬妮布朗(Fanny Brawn)後而越見成熟。濟慈大量寫作頌歌抒發追求芬妮時的憂鬱、苦悶,因此他最為人知的作品,如〈聖愛格尼斯節前夕〉(”Eve of St. Agnes”)便因這段戀曲而生。

B. 短暫的光芒

也許是為了與芬妮結婚卻苦於經濟拮据,濟慈大量的創作,觸角延伸至劇本寫作。然而,於1818年送走因肺癆過世的小弟湯馬斯之後,他日漸衰弱的身軀讓他因孱弱不堪的病軀而確認了病因。直至1820年,孱弱不堪的病軀確認他的病因。1821年,濟慈向芬妮與故鄉的朋友告別,前往羅馬休息養病,四個多月過後濟慈病逝,享年短短二十五歲三個月零八天。

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John Keats

1795-1821

 Early Life

     A. Family Background

     B. Desolate Growth in Adolescence

 Apprenticeship of Physician and Poet

     A. Tryout Years

     B. Resolution             

 Later Life      

A. Becoming a Real Poet

B. Romantic Relation

C. Strikes in Life

 

 Early Life
  In the 25 years that he lived, John Keats strived to choose his own path and to shine.  Though it was not until he passed away that his poems were highly appreciated, the affection and zeal Keats conveyed in his works indeed has been touching people’s heart and soul for long.

A.     Family Background

Rumor said that Keats was born in a stable.  Whether it was true or not, Keats was the first child of Thomas Keats and Frances Jennings Keats.  After him, Keats had two younger brothers, George Keats and Thomas Keats, and also a sister, Fanny Keats.  Keats attended school at Enfield since he was eight years old.  His brothers later joined him at Enfield.  The family was initially prospering with business and the household until 1804 when Thomas Keats, the father died due to his fall from a horse.  Within a very short time, Frances Keats remarried but left her children to her parents.  A strong woman, Alice Whalley Jennings, Keats grandmother took care of her orphaned grandchildren and made Richard Abbey, a tea merchant her grandchildren’s guardian.  Though Frances Keats later returned to her family in 1808, she died of tuberculosis.  This disease took not only the mother but also three of the Keats children.  Tom (Thomas) Keats died first in London, John Keats next in 1821 in Rome, and at last George Keats in America.

B.     Desolate Growth in Adolescence

After the father died of the accident, Keats realized that he, as the first child and the big brother for three younger brothers and sister, must take care of the family.  From a real boyish child who always fought with children of his age, Keats was enlightened by John Clarke, the headmaster of the school, and started to contact literature.  Clarke’s son Cowden Clarke remained Keats faithful friend in his short lifetime.  Throughout his life, Keats was surrounded by the shadow of death and consumption.  At the age of sixteen, Abbey considered doctor a good choice of work for Keats, so Keats was apprentice to Thomas Hammond. 

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 Apprenticeship of Physician and Poet

 

 

A.     Tryout Years

Clarke taught Keats French and Latin at school and later Cowden Clarke introduced him Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene, which exploited Keats imagination.  In 1814, Keats wrote his first poem when he was eighteen.  At the same time, Cowden brought in Leigh Hunt, a critic and the editor of The Examiner, to Keats.  It was possibly Hunt’s encouragement that made Keats compose his first political poem.  Keats’ intention to draw attention of the public was answered, but some critics regard Keats unwise to take side with Hunt. 

B.     Resolution

By the time of 1815, Keats served as a dresser at Guy’s Hospital.  Writing poetry became Keats’ prior concern rather than his job.  As Hunt singled out Keats’ poetry in The Examiner, Keats started to consider Hunt’s proposal of publishing his poetry as a book.  Meditating upon his miserable childhood, Keats began to think seriously about becoming a poet.  Finally, Keats made up his mind and quit his work.

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 Later Life

 

 

A.     Becoming a Real Poet

Keats’ first book of poetry was published in 1817, but did not receive great attention.  Keats became noticed as a poet with publication of Endymion: A Poetic Romance, a product out of the friendly challenge of Shelley.  Endymion manifested Keats brood in human’s limitation.  Though Keats was not too happy about the critics’ severe criticism of Endymion, he was not frustrated either.  Instead, he further proceeded to write his famous odes and other poems.

B.     Romantic Relation

Keats acquaintance with Fanny Brawne inspired him to write his mature and reputable Eve of St. Agnes.  Although for years, Keats had been on and off connecting with women, Fanny Brawne was his first love and the one that he sincerely considered marrying.  It was his financial situation that kept him from marrying Miss Brawne, and it seemed to be useless for Keats to write to his brother, George, who was himself successful in business but caught in a difficult financial condition in America at that time.  Nevertheless, Keats relationship with Fanny Brawne brought him more works until his symptoms of consumption got worse and worse.

C.     Strikes in Life

Keats’ youngest brother, Thomas, died in London earlier in December 1818.  Despite his possible engagement to Fanny Brawne in 1819, Keats’ illness and financial difficulties burdened him.  George Keats returned from America to take care of some business matters and Keats went to see him the last time.  On the point of revising his poems approaching to the press, in 1821, Keats departed from Fanny Brawne and left for Rome, where he died on February 23, at the age of twenty-five.

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Reference

Coleman, Elliott.  Ed.  Poems of Byron, Keats, and Shelley.  Boston: The Programmed Classics, 1967.

Concise Dictionary of British Literary Biography, Vol. 3: Writers of the Romantic Period, 1789-1832.  Gale Research, 1992.

Encyclopedia of world Biography, 2nd ed.  17vols.  Gale Research, 1998.

Thorpe, Alarence DeWitt.  Ed.  John Keats: Complete Poems and Selected Letters.  New York: Odyssey P, 1935.

 

     
     

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